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I've been a fan for years, but I think that in Breaking the Waves Missy Mazzoli has reached a whole new level. She is no longer, in my view, one of the great young composers, or one of the great Brooklyn composers. Just one of the great living composers. Period. This opera is no worse than Written on Skin.


I've also been a fan of Kiera Duffy's for years, so I'm glad to see she's received her breakout role. I don't think anyone will be able to view her as anything other than a star singer from now on.

Not sure what you mean by "no worse than Written on Skin." :huh:


Paul considered going to Philadelphia when Breaking the Waves premiered, but we didn't. And I couldn't make time to see it here. To be honest, I'm somewhat put off by the story (no, didn't see the movie). Although it does seem as though it would be perfect fodder for an opera.

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It's hard to pay attention to the current Met run of Le Comte Ory when your uncontrollable inner mind keeps emitting:   WE'RE SO PRETTY OH SO PRETTY YENDE   (I should say that this star-is-born do

Dynamite-plus, even.

This reminds me of my rant about SF Ballet's Cinderella without fairy godmother or mice.

  • 2 months later...

Today is the last day of Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, and the seventh performance we will have been to. Most have been good to great, including the show that included a work each by Martha Graham and PT (both performed by the Taylor company) and one by Merce Cunningham, performed by Lyon Opera Ballet. We got to see the Cunningham piece again last night, and other than the bald head, I could have sworn that Tyler Galster WAS Merce Cunningham. The only evening that fell short was this past Friday, which included a new piece by Lila York, a former Taylor dancer--faux PT, and the music distracted and detracted (at least, for me)--and one of PT's newest, which can only be described as "embarrassing" (not only by me; Alastair Macaulay said the same in the Times). The audience's widespread silence at its curtain call was extensive. At least the program ended with Syzygy, which was splendid. We see PT's other new piece this afternoon; friends we trust who saw it already agreed with Macaulay's opinion, so my hopes are not high. But the rest of the program is good, and we can go out whistling Bach.

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The other new PT piece was okay--on the light side, and at least not embarrassing. But rather dated in its concept. I didn't mind that only some of Elgar's Enigma Variations were used; after all, some of PT's best dances use snippets of Bach or Schubert or Handel. Speaking of which, the program ended with Brandenburgs, which uses bits of several of the Brandenburgs. It strikes me as a lesser Esplanade (which we got to see twice this year), but still quite worthwhile.


The program began with Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rehearsal), using the two-piano version. Much more interesting (to me) as an homage to Nijinsky than as a story ballet.


So now I have been tasked with finding other dance performances for us to go to. Suggestions of interesting NYCB programs?

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I'm generally not the biggest fan of Romeo and Juliet. I'm especially not a fan of adaptations of Romeo and Juliet, because they often make everyone involved seem dumb – consider act 5 of the opera, when Romeo shows up at Juliet's tomb with no explanation.


Mostly unrelatedly, I happen to be a fan of really dumb reality TV – Say Yes to the Dress, Million Dollar Listing, &c.


Even given both, though, I found the Joffrey Romeo and Juliet more idiotic and more unenjoyable than I could possibly have imagined.


The staging is stupid in the manner of a fractal – dumb choices upon dumb choices upon dumb choices. Not only is it set in 20th-century Italy, each of the three acts is set in a different decade – the '30s, the '50s, and the '90s, respectively. This conceit makes no sense – is this Romeo and Juliet x Sleeping Beauty, or Romeo and Juliet x Rip van Winkle? Are the characters supposed to be the same people? Different people?


It gets worse, though. The Capulets in this staging are literally fascists, while the Montagues are... well, it's not clear what, but they're not fascists. So not only do they have much more reason to not get along, the Capulets are essentially villains. Heck, Capulet dresses and acts somewhere between B-movie Dracula and a goose-stepping autocrat..


That's not all. Individual scenes are just as full of moments of inspired stupidity. That duel between Tybalt and Mercutio? It's a fistfight. You might wonder, as I did, how they were going to kill off Mercutio in a fistfight. Well... they don't. The "duel" ends, then Capulet hands Tybalt a knife. Tybalt then runs up to Mercutio and murders him for no reason by shanking him in the back. WTF?


Then there's that insipid bit of staging where, after Juliet takes the potion, Romeo enters the stage right as Friar Lawrence leaves. They somehow contrive not to see each other. It's so contrived that it renders what ought to be the pathos of the subsequent dance between Romeo and Juliet's unconscious body into risible bathos instead – like I actually laughed out loud.


The casting on the Sunday evening program, the last in the run, was also notably terrible. Jeraldine Mendoza as Juliet was the shortest dancer on the stage, while Dylan Gutierrez as Romeo was the tallest. He had a good head and a half on her. Even en pointe, she could barely clear his shoulders. Their pas de deux looked somewhere between silly and kinky, but not in a good way.


The costuming was also pretty bad. The Romeo wore a light-colored button-up shirt, on which sweat marks were clearly visible on his back and armpits – eww. The Friar Lawrence wore a double-breasted grey suit, so his tab collar was barely visible, and he looked like a cross between a televangelist and a businessman. I mean, even in the present the parish priest at the church I (very occasionally) visit wears a cassock, so why would you make a 1930s Italian monk look like... not a monk?


Okay, so it wasn't all bad. The orchestra did fine, and the Mercutio had some nice choreography. I was entirely too blinded by rage to really enjoy any of it, though.


In fact, overall I think I'd be happier right now if I'd closed my eyes through the entire ballet and ignored everything that was happening on the stage. If this is the best the Joffrey have to offer, then we should be quite glad they've left New York.

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Basically, the usual failure mode in adaptations of Romeo and Juliet for me is that they cut out so much that it makes everyone involved look like an idiot. The Joffrey version has a unique failure mode in that apparently the point of the story is that Lord Capulet is actually a Nazi (okay, Fascist, whatever) and that everything is his fault.


Unlike, say, Rossini's opera adaptation of Otello that changes just about everything, Pastor's Romeo and Juliet ballet changes relatively little, but manages to butcher the plot even more badly.

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Right, but that's different from the adaptation itself being extra stupid, by turning the Capulets into fascists, and by turning Capulet himself into a goose-stepping baddie.


Instead of being about youthful love/idiocy, it becomes about Capulet being a dick, and an accessory to murder.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Not sure what you mean by "no worse than Written on Skin." :huh:

Sorry, I didn't see this.


I meant that many of us think that Written on Skin is at the very pinnacle of operas written in the last half decade.


Breaking the Waves is not any worse. Which means that it, too, is at the pinnacle.

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